Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Best Fall Slaw!

There are perks to living near a city with several of James Beard Award-Winning Chefs.  Outside of the obviously great food at their restaurants, one of them writes a witty food column for our Sunday newspaper's food section.  Even though Sandy D'Amato no longer lives in Milwaukee and has sold his restaurant Sanford to his Chef de Cuisine (and recent James Beard Award winner as well), he still writes his weekly column. More than a few times, he shares a recipe that I simply have to be make right away. 

Such was the case for this amazing autumnal slaw. Celeriac, apples, celery, red onion and dates tossed with a cardamom dressing.  Doesn't that sound great? 

If you're not familiar with celeriac (also called celery root) and wouldn't know what it looked like if one was staring you in the face, it reminds me of a small ogre's head. Yup. Certainly not the beauty queen of the produce aisle, but, peeled of it's outer knobby and warty-looking brown exterior, it's a wonderful, mild vegetable. I've used it cooked and mashed in lieu of potatoes (delicious and low starch) and also in soups, but this was the first time I've used it raw. Not related to celery at all, celeriac is a relative of fennel, carrots, parsley and parsnips. 

My husband started 'tasting' the slaw before our fish was grilled that evening and before the end of dinner the entire bowl (more than you see here) was gone. It won high praise from my husband and we both gave it two thumbs up. It is the best fall slaw!

The Best Fall Slaw

Adapted from Chef Sanford d'Amato
Printable Recipe

1 pound celery root (celeriac)
½ red onion
2 crisp apples (such as Gala or Fuji
2 ribs celery, cleaned and cut on the bias ¼ inch thick
6 to 8 pitted dates, cut into ¼-inch pieces
1-¼ teaspoons kosher salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, or mint, chopped

Lemon cardamom dressing:

Zest of ½ lemon
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons honey (my addition)

To prepare the lemon cardamom dressing, combine the lemon zest and juice in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Reduce to 1 tablespoon liquid. Cool to room temperature, then add the remaining dressing ingredients and blend well.

Peel the celery root to yield about 10 ounces. Cut into ¼-inch slices, then cut the slices into thin, julienne strips and cut those in half. Place in a large bowl.

Peel and core the onion, then slice very thin. Rinse under hot water, then in cold, and drain. Add to celery root in bowl.

Cut the apples in half, core, and cut into quarters.  Cut each quarter into ¼-inch-thick slices from stem to bottom. Add to bowl.

Add sliced celery, dates, salt, pepper and parsley or mint. Mix in reserved dressing. Toss well, cover and chill in refrigerator until ready to use.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Parmesan Peppercorn "No Knead" Bread

I've made this bread twice in one week.  It's that good.  

The recipe was inspired by our daughter and son-in-law who love the Parmesan pepper bread that they buy at a favorite Italian restaurant and retail sore.  They had brought us a sample of that bread this past summer and I wanted to see if I could recreate for them when they came for dinner this past week. 

I decided on using a hearty, no knead, crusty bread for my experiment - the kind of bread that you bake in a covered dutch oven. After the dough had risen for the specified amount of time,  I patted it into a rectangle and spread a good half cup or so of finely diced Parmesan cheese and sprinkled on a good dose of freshly ground black pepper. I rolled it up into a log and allowed it to rest under plastic wrap until the oven and cast iron dutch oven were heated and ready to use.

I was very pleased at the look of the bread when I removed it from the oven! But would it taste as great as it looked?

The answer came when my son-in-law asked to take the uneaten portion of the bread home with him :)  I made it again two days later when our other daughter and her boyfriend came for dinner and certainly it won't be the last time!

Autumn is in full swing here in the Midwest!   My fall crocus is blooming and the leaves on the trees are turning red and gold and falling in a carpet on the lawn which makes great fun for two little boys to enjoy, especially with the beautiful week of weather we've enjoyed. 

Parmesan Peppercorn "No Knead" Bread

Makes one loaf

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups luke-warm water
1-2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon regular yeast
1/2 to 3/4 cup finely diced Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons freshly ground black peppercorns (more or less depending on your taste)

Special equipment: A large dutch oven with lid, preferably enamel-covered cast iron
Tip:  Use a coffee bean grinder to grind larger amounts of peppercorns

In a large bowl, blend together the flour, salt and yeast. Add the warm water stir together.  The mixture will be wet and shaggy looking.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and place on the kitchen counter at room temperature for 8-18 hours.

After dough is ready to use, preheat the oven to 450 F.

Pour the dough onto a well-floured surface.  Flour your hands and pat the dough into a rough rectangle about 8" x 14".  Spread the diced parmesan cheese and ground black pepper over the dough and roll up into a log from the narrower side. Cover with the plastic wrap and let the dough rest for about 30 minutes or so.

While dough is resting, put a dutch oven with lid into the preheated oven for 30 minutes.

At this time, I cut three very shallow slashes across the top of the bread with a serrated knife (don't cut too deep or the cheese will ooze out).

Then, carefully remove the dutch oven with hot pads and, using floured hands, place the bread dough into the dutch. Your may need a large, floured spatula to assist you. If your dutch oven doesn't have an enamel coating have a piece of parchment paper already cut to size and place that under the dough first.

Place the dutch oven into the oven, replace the lid and bake for 30 minutes. Then, remove the lid and bake for an additional 15 minutes uncovered.

Remove to a rack and cool.